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05 Apr 2018

St George Illawarra Dragons vs South Sydney Rabbitohs: Lineups, preview & prediction

St George Illawarra Dragons vs South Sydney Rabbitohs:
Lineups, preview & prediction

Jubilee Oval, Friday 6th April, 7.50pm AEST.

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Overview

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Recent meetings

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Selected teams

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The facts that matter

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Prediction

Overview

Round 5 comes equipped with a Charity Shield flavour this Friday night as the Dragons take on the Rabbitohs at Jubilee Oval.

The Dragons are flying high atop the Premiership table, and while many are quick to note that the Dragons often start their seasons well before falling in a heap (the last time they won a Finals match was the 2010 Grand Final), there is a different feeling to the 2018 version of the Red V, with Ben Hunt and James Graham adding skill, starch and experience to a club sorely lacking it in key moments throughout the best part of the last decade.  Aside from a lacklustre first half against the Sharks in Round 2, the Dragons have played remarkably consistent football and start the season with a perfect 4 wins from 4 matches.

The Rabbitohs have had patches of football where they’ve looked like world-beaters, but haven’t found the consistency required to push the best teams thus far.  Greg Inglis is slowly improving after returning from injury and they’ve managed 2 wins on the trot without their chief playmaker Adam Reynolds, so it’s fair to say the Rabbitohs have a lot of improvement in them. They’d better improve quickly if they want to tame the high-flying Dragons on Friday night, particularly with the news that Sam Burgess has been suspended for 2 matches after his appeal of a Grade One Dangerous Contact charge was unsuccessful.

Recent meetings

04.08.2017 – Rabbitohs won 26-24

19.05.2016 – Rabbitohs won 34-24

20.03.2016 – Dragons won 8-6

18.07.2015 – Rabbitohs won 24-8

11.05.2015 – Rabbitohs won 16-10

In positive news for the boys from Redfern, the Rabbitohs have held a significant advantage over the Dragons in recent NRL clashes, winning 5 of their last 6 clashes.  

Selected teams

St George Illawarra Dragons South Sydney Rabbitohs
1Matt DuftyAlex Johnston
2Nene MacdonaldDane Gagai
3Euan AitkenGreg Inglis
4Tim LafaiHymel Hunt
5Jason NightingaleRobert Jennings
6Gareth WiddopCody Walker
7Ben HuntAdam Reynolds
8James GrahamTom Burgess
9Cameron McInnesDamien Cook
10Paul VaughanTo Be Confirmed....
11Tyson FrizellJohn Sutton
12Tariq SimsAngus Crichton
13Jack De BelinCameron Murray
Interchange
14Luciano LeiluaAdam Doueihi
15Kurt MannMark Nicholls
16Leeson Ah MauGeorge Burgess
17Hame SeleJunior Tatola
Reserves
18Jeremy LatimoreRobbie Farah
19Zac LomaxJason Clark
20Jacob HostBraidon Burns
21Blake LawrieKyle Turner

The facts that matter

St George Illawarra Dragons

The Dragons have been the consummate professionals in the opening month of the competition and we can expect more of the same from them in this fixture, with their side enjoying a lack of injuries or suspensions so far this season.

Ben Hunt and Gareth Widdop have formed a dynamic halves pairing that has made fools of those that scoffed at Hunt’s price tag when he initially signed for the Dragons at the start of 2017 (this writer included).

After an excellent end to his 2017 season, Hunt has continued that form and with James Graham added to a forward pack already boasting impressive names like Vaughan, De Belin, Frizell and Sims, there are no signs of him, or the Dragons, slowing down.

We expect that Latimore will be promoted to the bench in place of Hame Sele as has been standard for the Dragons in each of their opening matches.

South Sydney Rabbitohs

The Rabbitohs will be buoyed by the return of Adam Reynolds at halfback, but so impressive was young Adam Doueihi that he is retained on the bench at the time of the naming of the squad.  It’ll be interesting to see what coach Anthony Seibold does with Doueihi.  Does he come on in the halves to allow Walker a license to roam?  Does he take minutes off Damien Cook at dummy half?  Is he an insurance policy if Reynolds is re-injured during the match? Will he come on in the forwards to inject creativity into the side?  We must wait and see.

Sam Burgess was named at prop but, as we mentioned earlier, he’ll be missing for 2 weeks.  The word is that George Burgess will be promoted to the starting side with Jason Clark expected to come onto the bench. Sam Burgess will be a significant loss for the Rabbitohs, not just for his work-rate, but also because he is the leader of the forward pack and the man the Rabbitohs turn to when the going gets tough.

Prediction

This writer will (unhappily) admit that tipping has not been his forte this season so feel free to ignore my tip that the Dragons will be too strong for the Rabbitohs sans Burgess.  Heck, you may as well throw $5** on the Rabbitohs by 20 the way the season has gone to this point!

** so long as you gamble responsibly!

Will it be another win for the Red V or could the Bunnies pull off an upset? Let us know in the comments and poll below.